Behind The Scenes

Calling all software developers:
Enter the ESPN ALPS competition

ESPN Innovation is looking for a few good developers. ESPN ALPS is an experimental Open API for acquiring live scoring and statistical data for local and collegiate athletics.

To help test the API and experiment with various methods for interacting with fans and developers, ESPN is hosting an app development competition with more than $10,000 in prizes available to the best submissions.

Front Row asked Andrew Budd, associate director, innovation project development, for more insight.

ALPS logo

FR: Can you tell us a little bit about ESPN ALPS?
Sure. ALPS is an experimental Open API for the live submission of play-by-play data directly to ESPN. There are many challenges associated with acquiring data from smaller collegiate and local events. ALPS attempts to address these challenges by putting better tools into the hands of the people who are already there — fans and teams. We decided to take it one step further and created an Open API that anyone can use to build these tools – teams, students, and other third parties. By enabling others to build on our foundation, we can encourage the development of superior tools that automatically send us the data which we need to cover these events well.

FR: What are you looking for specifically from developers in this competition?
We are looking for a few things. Developers can provide us with real-world feedback on the design of our API which is crucial for its long-term success. Does our API capture the right information, and is it structured in a way that will enable developers to leverage it quickly and effectively? We also want to test out the mechanics of our Open model. What support structures do we need to have in place to engage the community effectively? There are likely applications and features that we have not thought of but that the community would make good use of. What would motivate a developer to build an app that leverages our API? Where can we add value to the ecosystem, and how can we refine our approach so that it is a “win” for everyone involved?

FR: Is this the first time ESPN Innovation has held an open competition?
Yes, this is the first time that ESPN Innovation has held a competition like this.

FR: Will ESPN Innovation do more of these types of contests in the future?
Quite possibly. We have a few other concepts that could lend themselves to this method of validation, but will depend on a number of factors.

The competition is only open to people with .EDU email addresses. For more information, please click here.

To see ESPN Digital Media’s programmers, engineers and designers at work in a competition, click here.

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